The ECHR procedure in a nutshell


  • How

Any individual (or any company) may apply directly to the Court in Strasbourg:

  1. by recorded delivery,
  2. only by post (even if they application has been faxed beforehand)
  3. send to : The Registrar, European Court of Human Rights, Council of Europe, 67075 Strasbourg-Cedex, France


A notice for the guidance of applicants and an application form will then be send in return to the victim by the Registry.


The official languages of the Court are English and French, but applications may be submitted in one of the official languages of the Contracting States. Once the application has been declared admissible, one of the Court’s official languages must be used, unless the President of the Chamber/Grand Chamber authorises the continued use of the language of the application.


  • Who

Any individual (or compagny) claiming to be a victim of a violation of the Convention may apply directly to the Court in Strasbourg, alleging :

  1. a breach of one of the Convention rights,
  2. by a Contracting State.

Individual applicants are able to present their own cases.


But legal representation is strongly recommended.


Legal representation is usually required by the Court once the respondent Government has sent his first response to the application.





Each application is assigned to a Section, whose President designates a rapporteur.


After a preliminary examination of the case, the rapporteur decides whether it should be dealt with by a three-member Committee, by a Chamber or by a single-judge formation.


The single judge's competence is limited to taking decisions of inadmissibility or decisions to strike the case out of the list “where such a decision can be taken without further examination”.


This means that the judge will take such decisions only in clear-cut cases, where the inadmissibility of the application is manifest from the outset.





Individual applications which are not declared inadmissible are examined by a Chamber, wich determine both admissibility and merits (in separate decisions or where appropriate together)

Once the Chamber has decided to examin the application, it may invite the parties to submit further evidence and written observations, including any claims for “just satisfaction” by the applicant.


If no hearing has taken place at the admissibility stage, it may decide to hold a hearing on the merits of the case.


During the procedure on the merits, negotiations aimed at securing a friendly settlement may be conducted through the Registrar. This negotiations are confidential.





Chambers decide by a majority vote and any judge who has taken part in the consideration of the case is entitled to append to the judgment a separate opinion or a bare statement of dissent.

Within three months of delivery of the judgment of a Chamber, any party may request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber if it raises a serious question of interpretation or application or a serious issue of general importance.


A Chamber’s judgment becomes final on expiry of the three-month period or earlier if the parties announce that they have no intention of requesting a referral or after a decision of the panel rejecting a request for referral.

If the panel accepts the request, the Grand Chamber renders its decision on the case in the form of a judgment. The Grand Chamber decides by a majority vote and its judgments are final.

All final judgments of the Court are binding on the respondent States concerned.

Responsibility for supervising the execution of judgments lies with the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.


The Committee of Ministers verifies whether States in respect of which a violation of the Convention is found have taken adequate remedial measures to comply with the specific or general obligations arising out of the Court’s judgments.